Pinal County recently welcomed its first medical examiner, and it expects to see the position pay dividends in many ways.
Dr. John Hu, the medical examiner in Maricopa County for more than 16 years, has assisted in Pinal County cases before, but now the responsibility falls squarely in his hands.
Having its own medical examiner is expected to save the county thousands of dollars and streamline the examinations of local deaths. Until now, the county had to rely on an intergovernmental contract with Pima County. It spent approximately $800,000 per year, as Pima charged $400,000 for up to 225 autopsies in a given year. It also cost Pinal County approximately $30,000 to have doctors come in to perform examinations.
The county now is expected to be able to stay below its $730,000 ongoing annual operating budget target. It also is expected to be faster at handling cases, since travel time is eliminated.
"Now our chief medical examiner is there for us … our citizens and our cases will be of the highest priority,” County Attorney Kent Volkmer said.